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Faculty Senate approves new undergraduate Business major

Photo by Courtesy Tommy Lavergne | The Rice Thresher
Janice and Robert McNair Hall. Photo courtesy of Tommy LaVergne

By Isaiah Hwang     3/2/21 10:52pm

The Faculty Senate recently approved the undergraduate business major, which will start offering courses in fall 2021 according to Jeff Fleming, deputy dean of academic affairs at the Jones Graduate School of Business. Undergraduates in the class of 2024 and beyond will be eligible to declare the new business major. 

Fleming said that the main catalyst for creating a business major was the timing, which corresponds with the suggested plan to expand the student body by 800. Additionally, Fleming said that an increasing number of top universities are offering undergraduate business programs including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania and University of California, Berkeley. 

“The recent growth in the Jones [Graduate School of Business’s] faculty, along with the university’s plans to increase the size of the undergraduate population, made it an opportune time to consider launching a business major at Rice,” Fleming said.

Peter Rodriguez, the Dean of the Jones School of Business, said that he has been planning on creating a business major over his past five years as Dean. 

“We wanted to grow the Jones school for a while. It took us some time to understand the full effectiveness of the undergraduate minor, which I think is really successful. Given the resources and growth in faculty, we thought it was the right time to create a business major here,” Rodriguez said. 

According to Fleming, plans to offer an undergraduate business major began last summer, primarily involving curriculum design. Currently, Rice only offers undergraduates a minor in business, which Fleming said will continue to be available for students alongside the business major. 

“The business minor will give students who major in other fields across campus the opportunity to take a robust set of business courses to complement their education — so we were careful not to impact the structure of the business minor program when creating the business major,” Fleming said. “It will require students to fulfill 47 to 50 credits to satisfy major requirements, with the rest being courses from other Rice departments.” 

According to Fleming, the business major will include the courses required for the minor along with new courses in data analytics and management accounting and operations, and students will have the opportunity to earn a concentration in either finance or management.

“The largest benefit for Rice undergraduates, of course, is the opportunity to get a top-quality undergraduate business degree existing within a top-quality university,” Fleming said.

Forrest Park, a sophomore at Baker College pursuing economics and the business minor, said he looks forward to the courses and resources made available by the business major. 

“In my personal experience, business classes at Rice have helped me learn more career-related material than any other major requirement class. Making a business major available would allow incoming students to have another major option that feeds into the finance field which could help them learn more about potential career paths,” Park said. 

According to Fleming, students majoring in business will still take most of their coursework outside the business school so they will continue to benefit from the full range of outstanding educational opportunities Rice offers. 

Fleming said that the business major will help integrate the Jones Graduate School of Business with the rest of the university. 

“I believe that the largest benefit of the business major is full integration into Rice’s undergraduate education—us being engaged in other departments as a whole and to make our resources more available,” Rodriguez said. 

Christian Salameh, a sophomore at Martel College pursuing the business minor, said he anticipates that the business major will have a positive impact on the Jones’ school. 

“I think it will brighten up the business school a bit since the only other undergraduates we see are people taking business classes for the minor but now we will have a mix of purely business majors along with people from other majors,” Salameh said. 

Fleming is looking forward to the full integration of the Jones school into Rice’s undergraduate population’s education. 

“Undergraduate education is so important at Rice, and to this point, the Jones School’s engagement has been rather limited,” Fleming said.

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